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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
'Addicted to killing'
Drug vial
Shipman was fined for using drugs
The judge who led the inquiry into the Harold Shipman case has speculated that his crimes were linked to his addictive personality.

Shipman had a history of drug abuse and was fined during the 1970s for writing himself prescriptions for the morphine-like painkiller pethidine.

Dame Janet Smith examined Shipman's drug use in detail during her investigation into his crimes.

It is possible that he was addicted to killing

Dame Janet Smith
He claimed he had taken pethidine because he was depressed and unhappy about work.

But in her findings Dame Janet said: "There is no obvious reason why Shipman should have been depressed, anxious or deeply unhappy in the 1970s."

Dame Janet said she accepted the psychiatrists' view that Shipman might have had "all manner of underlying problems".

She said: "It seems to me that whatever problem it was that drove him to pethidine addiction in the 1970s was almost certainly never resolved and probably became a permanent part of his make-up.

"The psychiatrists say that a person who has one addiction is quite likely to be the subject to other forms of addiction.

"I think it likely that whatever it was that caused Shipman to become addicted to pethidine also led to other forms of addictive behaviour.

"It is possible that he was addicted to killing."

Shipman has never admitted responsibility for his crimes, much less offered an explanation.

Greed not a factor

Dame Janet said it was unlikely that his motivations would ever be fully understood.

She said the only way to achieve that would be through an in-depth psychiatric examination - which Shipman was unlikely ever to agree to.

Dame Janet said there was no evidence that Shipman was motivated by monetary gain. Very few of his patients left him cash.

There were occasions when he asked for an item of property belonging to a patient, such as a budgie or a sewing machine.

His downfall resulted from a clumsy attempt to forge the will of his final victim, 81-year-old Kathleen Grundy.

However, Dame Janet said the forgery was so obvious, it suggested that he had done it because he wanted to get caught.


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